24th April 2019
Our HB businesses tend to move at a steady pace — like farming generally — and new developments can often take us by surprise. Obviously we’d planned to have 200 new organic dairy cows and all the investment and effort that goes with them, but then we find that someone else in the business has been working quite separately, independently, to find better markets for some of that milk.
Manfred Neder, our Chop House chef, has been working quietly with local Swindon ice cream makers Rays (as in rays of sunshine, not Ray’s….), organising for them to use our milk, source their organic vanilla and chocolate and bananas, and all the other stuff you need for a decent ice cream, with the result that HB’s Royal Oak and Chop House are now stocking a rather lovely range of our own organic ice cream; and which were blind-voted on by Chop House customers last month as superior to the previous utterly delicious buffalo milk stuff which people had raved about for years.
We must not get carried away—the new cows here will produce an additional 1.3m litres of milk each year; and our ice cream sales through the pub and Chop House might use about 2,000 litres….we need to find some wider markets, I think.
Loaves, as I mentioned earlier… breadmaking at the pub and chop house is not our strong point, and it doesn’t really matter when you’ve got a very good bakery on your doorstep — which we now have, Aston’s, at the magnificent Sheepdrove estate, 8 miles away. Syd Aston, of deep west Welsh heritage, has moved his skills and equipment to be nearer the UK’s major population hubs. His sourdoughs, granaries, wholemeals, burger buns, and other fancy stuff are world class. And the point of all this — he’s using almost exclusively milling wheat grown at Eastbrook. Which we did not know here in the pub office, until someone from the farm office happened to mention it.